As the series continues I would like you to meet my friend Renee. It’s truly a joy to work and walk beside Renee in this crazy life-journey and as we both serve at the East Texas Pregnancy Help Center. Renee has the integral role as Administrator and amazes me daily with her multi-tasking, multi-hat abilities! Renee holds a Bachelor of Science Business Administrative degree from College of the Ozarks and has traveled and worked in many different, beautiful, wonderful places, and we are so happy to have her now here with us. She is a constant light to my life, and a faithful friend. Here’s a little piece of her heart in words..
The “wild rose” theme fits when I think about how counterculture my story has turned out. And I am thankful my story has unfolded the way it has. It has molded and shaped me in the exact and unique “wild rose” that God intended.
My story may be considered “wild” to the world. I remained single until almost 40 years old (pausing for the jaw-dropping gasps here.) And an even “wilder” fact is that I chose to wait for my husband (…pausing again..) How often does that happen anymore? I give credit to the grace of God! But admittedly, these facts about my life have been difficult to navigate emotionally far too often. I have been very messy emotionally!
The world is full of messages that if you are not married early in life, there is something wrong with you. Well-intentioned friends and family unceasingly ask questions such as, “Are you dating anyone?” “Are you going to stay single forever?” or make insensitive comments “Well, your standards may be too high.” or “It will happen when you stop looking.” Without meaning to, they caused me to feel like they thought there was something wrong with me as a woman since I was unmarried and childless.
True story… one year I came home from college, probably about age 19 or 20. My grandmother traditionally made full-sized afghans for her grandchildren as they each got engaged, however, she had already gotten it in her mind that I might never get married. She actually called me an old maid and announced that she went ahead and made me a twin-sized afghan. I am sure I turned all shades of red that day! Lol Side note: she passed away almost ten years after that and I now treasure the twin-sized afghan.
There is an important truth that the world is not shouting to us as women. The truth that we as women need to hear is that we are whole, we are beautiful, just the way we are.
Whether we are single, or divorced, or dating, or married, or widowed, or whatever our “label” happens to be…. and whatever the reason happens to be, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with us because our label is not something else.
Getting married does not make you mature or complete. Nor does singleness. God made each of us in his image and He directs our steps. One truth that help me reconcile my time of singleness in contrast with the messages the world sends is that God himself is the chooser and giver of my blessings (and the blessings of others). As I embrace my own gifts, I can celebrate joys with others without a jealousy/pity party because I am truly glad God has blessed them. And I can trust a God who gives every good and perfect gift. We do not know how long we get to enjoy the gifts either, so if your gift is singleness, savor it. If your gift is marriage, savor it. If your gift is mom, step-mom, grandmother, savor it. Savor every gift while you have it. One of my gifts was an extended time of singleness and I do not regret it. I followed the Lord and had exciting adventures during those years. I will be married 2 years in about 6 weeks. I am the same whole, beautiful woman I was before I was married. And I am savoring this new adventure as an equal but different gift.
I want to shout this message to the youth of our day. In the era of social media, they are bombarded with even more false messages about relationships and what is and is not appropriate in them. I want them to know that they are whole, they are beautiful JUST THE WAY THEY ARE! No relationship can give them value or add to their value. The value is already there. Embrace your value and celebrate who you are. And I challenge all of us to be mindful of our words as we inquire of others. We may not fully realize the messages we are sending, even the unintended ones.